It doesn't take rocket science -- or forensic science, for that matter -- to prove that CBS's "CSI" franchise has staked its claim as a prime-time television dynasty. The series has nabbed the top Nielsen ratings spot among general drama series for the past three years, and continually edges out other prime attractions such as ABC's "Desperate Housewives" and "Grey's Anatomy."
With the sixth season in full swing, eager fans and wannabe CSIs can bone up on last season's stories with the seven-disc set "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation -- The Complete Fifth Season." The DVD collection includes 24 episodes, plus commentary from actors William L. Petersen, Marg Helgenberger, Gary Dourdan and George Eads, among others.
The tumultuous fifth season covers the breakup and reunion of Grissom's team, as well as their foray into the world of transgender individuals. The final two-part episode is a race against time to save Eads's character, who has been kidnapped and buried alive. That episode was directed by Hollywood heavyweight Quentin Tarantino, an avid fan of the show, and the DVD version offers behind-the-scenes looks at Tarantino's directing process, as well as commentary from the cast, crew and Tarantino himself.
This crime investigation series tests the limits for graphic imagery and violence, and the bonus features stay true to form. If viewers can stomach the "ick" factor, the interviews with forensic experts and step-by-step construction of crime scenes are informative and interesting -- although a bit, well, bloody.
-- Holly E. Thomas
CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON
Paramount Home Entertain-ment: DVD $62.99; TV-MA; available Tuesday.